Moscow continues trying to link Ukraine to concert hall terrorist attack, Zelenskyy calls Russians 'scums'

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Russian officials have started to accuse Ukraine and the West of involvement in the deadly Moscow concert hall attack despite evidence suggesting that the terrorist group Islamic State-Khorasan (ISIS-K) was responsible.

“We believe the action was prepared both by the radical Islamists themselves and, obviously, facilitated by Western special services,” Federal Security Service (FSB) chief Gen. Alexander Bortnikov told reporters Tuesday in a briefing about the Crocus City Hall attack. “Ukraine’s special services themselves have a direct connection to this.”

“The terrorist attack in Crocus was needed by Western intelligence services and Ukraine in order to shake up the situation and create panic in society in Russia,” he added, according to the BBC.

When asked if the U.S., Britain and Ukraine were behind the attack, Bortnikov said, “Well, I think so,” adding, “Anyway, we’re talking about the facts that we have.”

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“This is general information, so to speak, but there are already some developments,” he said, having noted that he would not want to be “unsubstantiated, in order to say some unverified or emotional information.” 

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during an expanded Prosecutor General’s Office meeting in Moscow on Tuesday. (Contributor/Getty Images)

Secretary of the Russian Security Council Nikolai Patrushev also chimed in with allegations that “a lot of things point to Ukraine being behind the atrocity,” but assured that “the Investigative Committee will analyze everything now, and there will be information.” 

The initial response to the attack led to the arrests of four Tajikistan citizens, with another four accused of aiding terrorism and 11 men detained overall. Four men killed 139 people, with another 22 in serious condition, according to the BBC. 

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In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to link Ukraine to it, saying that four suspects had tried to flee to Ukraine through a “window” Kyiv had prepared for them on the border. 

Russian media reported that the four men had been tortured during the investigation, and they showed signs of having been severely beaten during their court appearance.

Federal Security Service Director Alexander Bortnikov, center, looks on during a meeting with graduates of military schools at the Kremlin in Moscow on June 21, 2023. (Egor Aleev/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the attack, but Putin made no mention of the group in his fiery speech after the “bloody, barbaric terrorist attack.” He only acknowledged that the crime “was committed by the hands of radical Islamists” on Monday, but made a promise to find out “who ordered it.”

“Who was waiting for them there?” he asked. “This atrocity may be just a link in a whole series of attempts by those who have been at war with our country since 2014.”

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National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson told reporters that “ISIS bears sole responsibility for this attack. There was no Ukrainian involvement whatsoever.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy strongly rejected Putin’s claims, calling his Russian counterpart and other officials “scums” for attempting to link Kyiv to the attack as an excuse to continue the invasion of Ukraine. 

People lay flowers to mourn victims of a terrorist attack in Moscow on Sunday. On Friday night, unidentified gunmen fired indiscriminately at concertgoers at Crocus City Hall in suburban Moscow, causing substantial casualties. (Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr/Xinhua via Getty Images)

“What happened in Moscow yesterday is obvious, and Putin and other scums are trying to shift the blame to someone else,” Zelenskyy wrote in a post on social media platform X. “Their methods are always the same. We have seen it all before.” 

“They came to Ukraine, burned down our cities, and then tried to blame Ukraine,” wrote Zelenskyy. “They torture and rape people – and then blame them. They have brought hundreds of thousands of their terrorists to Ukrainian territory, and they are waging war against us, but they don’t care about what happens inside their own country.” 

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“All of this happened yesterday, and instead of taking care of his Russian citizens and addressing them, this duffer Putin remained silent for a day, thinking about how to link this to Ukraine,” he continued, “Everything is entirely predictable. Those hundreds of thousands of Russians who are now killing on Ukrainian soil would certainly be enough to deter any terrorists.”

“And if Russians are willing to die quietly in ‘crocuses’ and not question their special services, Putin will try to exploit more of these situations for personal power. Terrorists must always lose,” Zelenskyy insisted. 

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